Uganda: December 7, 2002


Tension is building up in northwestern Uganda, following reports that the Uganda National Rescue Front II [UNRF II] rebels have ganged up with rebels of renegade Ugandan Army Colonels Samson Mande and Anthony Kyakabale to attack the towns of Yumbe, Arua and Pakwach. Mande and Kyakabale are recruiting in the Arua, Nebbi and Yumbe districts for their People's Redemption Army (PRA) and taking the recruits to northeastern Congo. Mande and Kyakabale are in self-imposed exile in Rwanda.

Unnamed sources told the Ugandan press that West Nile-based members of Colonel Kizza Besigye's Reform Agenda had hijacked the UNRF II leadership and also blamed them for influencing the rebels, so that they made unrealistic demands of the government.

Uganda's Reserve Force Commander, LTG Saleh met UNRF II rebels on 5 December in Arua, to diffuse the tension in the West Nile region. The next day, Army helicopter gun ships, tanks, Mambas Mine-Protected Vehicles and hundreds of heavily-armed troops deployed into the Yumbe area on the Sudan border. The last time the Ugandan Army moved into this area in such force was in 1996-97, when they clashed with and finally decimated the West Nile Bank Front (WNBF). So much for diffusing efforts. - Adam Geibel


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